As a centre with vast new museums and performance spaces grows out of the dust in Abu Dhabi, Anthony Sattin investigates the attempts of the oil-rich rulers to 'buy culture'.
The ambitious project, called Sadiyaat, involves the creation from scratch of a 'culture island', created by superstar architects Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel.
It involves expertise brought in from the Guggenheim and the Louvre as well as liberal arts teaching from the Sorbonne and New York University.
But the plans have bought protests, with objections to the 'plundering' of European museums' treasures for oil money.
Fears of censorship have also been raised.
But is this prejudice or justified fear?